Financial Firms Balance Culture, Tech to Forge a Hybrid Workplace

Institutions turn to cloud management solutions to enhance employees’ ability to work either at home or in the office.

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Similar to nearly all sectors, financial services firms had to radically change how they did business in 2020 as lockdown orders kept customers away and employees at home. Yet, unlike some younger industries, financial services also had decades of inertia with which to contend.

“There exists an old-fashioned mentality, and not just in financial services, where some leaders question whether employees can productively work 80 hours a week and pay their dues while working from home,” says Ishai Crane, Head of Private Sector Audience Marketing at Cisco Meraki.

However, some of the largest financial institutions have succeeded by adopting new working arrangements and emphasizing technology as a critical enabler. And it has brought them unexpected benefits, Crane says.

Lasting changes boost resiliency

Many of the workplace changes wrought by the pandemic are here to stay, according to analysts such as McKinsey & Company. Many employees are still working from home, even as restrictions ease. Customers have also grown accustomed to remote services options and will continue to expect them.

Crane says financial institutions will gain several key benefits as a result of remote work:

  • Lower costs. Firms needing less office space will have fewer operational expenses.
  • Recruiting advantages. Employees working from anywhere don’t have to relocate to accept a job offer, sweetening deals and allowing financial firms to draw talent from any location.
  • Increased agility. Disaster recovery, mergers and acquisitions, and other critical activities become easier to manage when people can work anywhere and IT infrastructure resides in the cloud.

Cloud-based IT and other technologies have enabled these and other benefits — even for the most tradition-bound financial firms. But to get there, they have had to manage a clash of conservative culture and new technologies.

Erin Patterson, Senior Vice President at real estate consulting company JLL, said: “Many banks had to pivot from a traditional point of view that office work should be done at the office.”

Despite early worries, a recent study shows that productivity will get a long-term boost with employees at home.

Citibank is among the financial giants to embrace a hybrid work culture coming out of the pandemic. The bank’s newly appointed CEO, Jane Fraser, announced in March that the pandemic had “opened doors to new ways of working” and that most employees would work at home two days a week.

The future of remote work

Crane believes that the new, mixed office-and-home work arrangement is here to stay, driven by younger employees. “They are going to be much more amenable to this hybrid flow and are going to push for it.”

Key to making the transition has been and will continue to be secure, cloud-managed IT, Crane says. Companies can mitigate lingering security risks and boost productivity by issuing robust networking hardware and security appliances for home offices.

“With the right hardware and cloud management solutions in place,” Crane says, “IT teams can work from anywhere themselves and deliver a consistent experience to employees wherever they are.”

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